Dance Dad Uses Woodworking for RecitalsDance_Dad_photobooth1

Ever wonder what makes a recital great? Clearly, a good recital entails a lot of forethought and organization–planning which kids will be in each act and what costumes match the music, picking songs that fit the theme, and creating a flow that seamlessly transitions from one act to another. But what about the set?

Mike Wilson is a whiz with power tools, and has a real can-do attitude about nearly any project imaginable. Given enough time, he can figure out a great way to make something just perfect to solve whatever dilemma is presented. A few years ago, dance studio owner Michelle Revelle started asking him to make the backdrops for her dance concerts. After some consideration, he agreed. He is after all a dance dad, specifically, hers.

I asked Mike about how he came to be so handy. He said, “I’ve been building things since I was very young, like Tinker Toys, Lincoln Logs and Erector Sets, etc. Then came the usual bird houses, and wooden copies of fishing lures that actually caught fish. Turning an idea or a picture into something real has always been very satisfying for me. The process is at least as enjoyable as seeing the finished product.”

The last few years, the backdrops have gotten more and more elaborate, with lots of detailed cutting, special paint techniques, and even hidden lights that can be dimmed.  Mike says, “my wife Kathy and daughter Michelle come up with great ideas and it’s my job to make it happen, so far so good. The thing that makes the backdrops so challenging is that I’m usually given a (small) copy of the year’s theme–Praise, Shine, etc.–and am asked to make it a bit larger. This year the butterfly will measure about 25X20, feet, and is the same shape as the one that appears on the program. It is always difficult to put aside honey-do’s and my own personal projects for a couple months, that is until they are set aside and covered up. Once started it is difficult to stop so sleep is usually limited. These backdrops can take anywhere from 50 or 60 hours to almost 200 to design and build, but when they are hanging on the stage and I see the kids’ reaction to them I get a real thrill. These dancers put on such a great show every year I’m surprised anyone in the audience looks at the backdrops, but if they do I try to make them suitable for the high caliber performance taking place.”

Just as the shows point to Christ, Mike acknowledges, “there is another Carpenter who helps me to figure it out and gives me the energy to get it done, and I’m glad to do my part.”  To see some backdrops from prior years, visit the Backdrops for Sale page.